Media Business Models: Paper And Electron? That’s Creativ


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Print is dead. Magazines are dying.

Not so, thinks Creativ.

This magazine did something unique. They launched on mobile first, thanks to a large but relatively under the radar startup known as issuu, a platform that helps content creators build long form content vs. the short-form stuff we’re used to on apps like Flipboard.

Creativ, an independent arts and culture magazine grew its readership from 20k to 500k on mobile through issuu first. The rabid popularity of the content on mobile gave Creativ the ability to then expand to print.

The result: Creativ is in 1,700 retail locations across the country.

Why this matters: Publishers are feeling the same pain as musicians — the fear of losing their revenue streams to digital consumers. Platforms like Flipboard, Facebook and Twitter don’t really care too much about publishers, so who does?

Enter issuu: The company is publisher-focused, does no real marketing for its own brand and expects each of its publishers to market their content to their audiences and find it in the issuu app, which has become the largest digital newsstand on mobile, bigger than Apple News Stand.

We think there’s an interesting story here about entrepreneurs like Creativ, and how they plan to make mobile work for them vs. giving up and waving the white flag to their long-form content which people around the world still love.

Foremski’s Take: I’ve always been [puzzled why some people have a hatred of paper-based media versus electronic. Surely it’s about the quality of the content? Paper or electron, if there’s a business model for it it shouldn’t matter how the content is delivered and Creativ is an excellent example of a media company leveraging both forms.

There’s additional benefits to paper. Paper-based media companies such as newspapers have struggled in their transition to a digital business model. But the transition is relatively slow compared with the transition to mobile news media from desktop versions.

The transition has been in progress for at least a decade and it will likely continue for another decade. That’s not true for the transition to mobile media formats from desktop, which is happening dizzyingly fast.

The smaller screen space and the smaller revenues from mobile advertising are making life very difficult for digital-first media organizations.

Those media companies with legacy paper-based business groups, such as The New York Times, have some protection for their nascent digital businesses. Revenues have been falling faster in digital advertising than in newsprint advertising.

Paper or electron? It’s good to have both.